Over the last couple of school years we have had the joy of being a host family for a couple of student teachers from German. Both of the women who lived with us were delightful and became a part of our family.
This year, however, we decided with Kjell going to a new school, and the demands of Dave’s job, to forgo the fun. It was a bittersweet decision. We had so much fun with both Sina and Maggie, and we learned so much about German culture while they were with us. But in truth, it had been really nice to have our bedroom back, as we had been sleeping in the walk in closet off the boys’ room to give the interns a place to stay in our tiny little house.
About a week before school started we got a call from Broder’s German teacher: a group of 15 middle school students was coming in a week, to stay for 2 weeks, and they were in need of families to host. Would we be interested?
We said yes, with the caveat that the kid would have to be willing to share a room with our boys, must like dogs, and in general be flexible and adventurous.
We were paired up with Terry. A 7th grader from Frankfurt, who had 1 sister, 2 dogs, 1 horse, 12 doves and a cat.
Many emails were exchanged as we worked to get to know each other, and allay the fears of Terry’s mom, as sending her baby across the world was proving to be a bit stressful.
Good thing she wasn’t here for Terry’s first day.
Good thing Terry was about as go with the flow and ready to try new things as any kid has ever been.
The day started out like any other: I yelled at my kids to get in the car, stopped by the neighbor’s house, picked up a couple more kids, and off we went. Cruising down the road at a happy little clip.
something hit the back window of the minivan and it exploded. I pulled over into the nearest parking lot, pulled the girls out of the back seat, checked for injury. there was none. Thank God! But Sunny and our neighbor girl were pretty scared and a little teary.
called Dave, he brought the truck and took my injured little minivan home, where he gave it a new plastic and duct tape window.
We made it to school, kids to their classrooms just a few minutes late.
And then I lost it. As I left the parking lot, all I could think about was what could have happened, how badly the kids could have been hurt. I kept seeing Sunny’s sweet face as it was after the car accident she had been in at 2.5 years old. Torn and bloody. I made it to work, and sat sobbing, for what felt like forever, before I was able to get it together.
As the day wore on, I was less emotional, but my nerves were a bit raw, and that makes what happened next even more exciting.
I left work and made a beeline for Sunny and Broder’s school. Terry had arrived a few hours earlier, and I was anxious to meet my German boy!
At the school, we loaded the kids into the truck, and threw Terry’s luggage in the back. Now our truck is old, and sometimes the tailgate doesn’t quite latch. You know where this is going, right?
We headed off down the highway, in a bit of a hurry to get to a local park, as the whole family (and our very jet lagged German boy) was slated to run a race and then have a potluck dinner with a couple of families.
At the bottom of the exit ramp, my turn was a little faster than perhaps it should have been, and I saw it happen, and I said some words that made poor sweet Terry’s eyes get really big:
His extremely expensive, brand new piece of luggage slid across the bed of the truck, hit the tailgate, (which flopped open) and sailed out onto the roadway.
Across 3 lanes of traffic it skittered. Amazingly, the suitcase did not open. Just came to rest in the middle of the road.
Pulling over to the side of the road, I threw the truck into park, put on the flashers, and jumped out. In a dress and heels, as I was still dressed for work, my running gear in a bag on the seat of the truck.
Local drivers took pity and stopped, watching and laughing as I wrestled this giant silver suitcase into the back seat of the truck.
And off to the races we went. Through woods and fields we ran, Terry leading the pack, in his designer jeans and loafers.
And off to dinner, 24 people packed into the kitchen and living room of my friend Lisa’s house.
There was a lot of laughter, a lot of food, and one very tired German sleeping in the rocking chair.